Thursday, February 25, 2016

Could health warning labels stop parents buying sugary drinks for kids?

by Marie Ellis

Although kids are consuming less added sugar today than they were in 2000, they are still taking in much more sugar than is recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, putting them at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania wanted to examine whether warning labels on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) would have an effect on parents and whether they would be less likely to purchase them.

"Some states have introduced bills requiring SSBs to display health warning labels," says lead author Christina Roberto, PhD, "but to date, there is little data to suggest how labels might influence purchasing habits, or which labels may be the most impactful."

She adds that because over half of children under 11 years of age drink SSBs daily, "there is a growing concern about the health effects associated with consumption of these beverages."

Previous studies have shown that many SSBs marketed for children contain up to 7 tsp of sugar per 6.5 oz, which is twice the recommended daily serving of sugar for children.

According to the researchers, certain types of SSBs - such as flavored waters and fruit or sports drinks - may need warning labels because many parents believe they are healthy options for their kids.

Findings similar to those on effects of tobacco warning labels
To conduct their study - which is published in the journal Pediatrics - the researchers carried out an online survey of 2,381 parents with at least one child between 6-11 years of age.

The parents were from diverse backgrounds; many of them identified as racial and ethnic minorities, which are groups with the highest obesity rates in the US.

Participants were divided into six groups: a control group, which did not see a warning label on beverages; a calorie label group, which saw a label that only displayed the beverage's calorie count; and four warning label groups, which saw one of four variations of warning labels that cautioned about possible negative health effects.

Next, the researchers asked the participants to choose a beverage for their child.

Although the specific text of the health warning labels did not affect the parents' purchase choices, the researchers say the presence of the label did have a meaningful effect.

Results revealed that 40% of parents in the health warning label groups said they would choose an SSB for their kids, whereas 60% of participants who did not see labels on the beverages said they would.

Additionally, 53% of parents who saw the calorie labels said they would choose an SSB.

Roberto says their findings are similar to those from studies that examined the effects of tobacco warning labels, which have been shown to encourage smoking cessation.

"Regardless of the specific wording," she says, "results show that adding health warning labels to SSBs may be an important and impactful way to educate parents about the potential health risks associated with regular consumption of these beverages, and encourage them to make fewer of these purchases."

'Warning labels have potential to motivate behavior change'
These findings are timely, as last week, the US Department of Agriculture issued new dietary guidelines that recommended limiting sugar to 10% or less of daily calories.

After evaluating consumer support for SSB warning labels, the team also found that around 75% of the study participants support adding them to beverages.

The team hopes that in light of their results, future research will focus on how labels influence choice for consumers.

Roberto adds:

"We can now say that warning labels have the potential to educate parents and motivate behavior change when it comes to purchasing SSBs, which could help gain support for bills requiring labels to be added to beverage containers, but there are also many unanswered questions that require further study."

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What to Expect From Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

For today's ‪#‎ThrowbackThursday‬ post, we share our video of Kristen Knowles Buzz Cut for a Cause.
In order to help anyone going through hair loss, Kristen shaves her head. She then wears different types of wigs and documents what she likes and dislikes about them.
Watch this amazing step-by-step process of what a chemotherapy patient would go though and the thoughtful care and service they receive from the Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness team in Houston, Texas.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Your Starbucks drink may have 25 spoons of sugar in it

Ivana Kottasova

Flavored drinks served by the likes of Starbucks can contain up to 25 teaspoons of sugar per serving, according to a new report by a British campaign group Action on Sugar.

That's three times the amount of sugar in one can of coke, and more than three times the maximum adult daily intake recommended by the American Heart Association.

The report said that 98% of hot flavored drinks sold at major coffee chains in the U.K. have excessive levels of sugars per serving, with 35% containing nine or more teaspoons of sugar -- the same amount as a can of Coca Cola.

The research focused on drinks sold in the U.K., but nutritional information published on the companies' website show that sugar levels are similar in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Action on Sugar describes itself as "a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health." Its advisers and staff include doctors, nutritionists and public health specialists. It analyzed 131 hot drinks, including flavored lattes, chai teas, mocha coffees and mulled fruit drinks. The survey touched on nine big coffee shops and food chains in Britain including Starbucks, Costa and Pret a Manger.
The group also campaigns against hidden sugars in everyday food, organizes "Sugar awareness week," and advises people on how to eat less sugar.

The report said Starbucks' hot mulled fruit grape with chai, orange and cinnamon was the "worst offender," with 25 teaspoons of sugar.

Two other popular Starbucks choices -- vanilla latte and caramel macchiato -- contain more than eight teaspoons of sugar each, according to the company's U.S. website.

Starbucks said it has committed to reduce added sugar in its "indulgent drinks" by 25% by the end of 2020. "We also offer a wide variety of lighter options, sugar-free syrups and sugar-free natural sweetener and we display all nutritional information in-store and online," a Starbucks spokesperson said.

A medium Dunkin' Donuts vanilla chai has over 11 teaspoons of sugar, while a hot macchiato includes 7 teaspoons. KFC's mocha contains 15 teaspoons of sugar. A large mocha at McDonald's  has 11 teaspoons, and a chai latte massimo at the British chain Costa Coffee includes 20 teaspoons.

"These hot flavored drinks should be an occasional treat, not an 'everyday' drink. They are laden with an unbelievable amount (of) sugar and calories and are often accompanied by a high sugar and fat snack," said Kawther Hashem, a researcher for Action on Sugar.

Health campaigns against excessive sugar contents has been gaining momentum in recent years. The World Health Organization has recently suggested cutting the recommended sugar intake for adults in half, to about 25 grams, around 6 teaspoons, of sugar for a normal weight adult a day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Memory cells enhance strategy for fighting blood cancers


Stem cells with memory may improve a powerful new type of cancer therapy.

Recently, scientists have engineered cells from a patient’s own immune system to fight blood cancers. The treatment with the engineered immune cells, called CAR-T cell therapy, may work even better if doctors transplant a subset of immune cells known as memory T cells, researchers reported February 14 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting.

A single engineered memory T cell was enough to replenish the infection-fighting ability of mice lacking T cells, said Dirk Busch, an immunologist the Technical University of Munich. That finding indicates that very low numbers of the cells in the body could be enough to protect human patients from maladies ranging from infections to cancer.

In preliminary clinical trials, CAR-T cell therapy using the memory T cells eliminated cancer in 27 of 29 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, for whom other treatments had failed. Stanley Riddell, an immunotherapy researcher at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle, reported the finding. Memory CAR-T cell therapy also melted away tumors in six of seven patients in whom cancer had spread from the bone marrow to other parts of the body. And 10 of 11 patients who had previously undergone CAR-T cell therapy with a mixed bag of engineered T-cells were in remission after being treated with just the engineered memory cells, Riddell reported.

Only a few hundred to a few thousand of the memory cells were needed to melt a patient’s tumor, Riddell said. The low doses also lessened side effects of the therapy, he said.

CAR-T cells are genetically engineered versions of immune cells called T cells. T cells prowl the body and identify invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and other foreign cells. For decades, researchers have been trying to boost cancer patients’ immune systems in order to kill cancer cells. Recently, researchers have created CAR-T or “chimeric antigen receptor” T cells that make proteins that allow the cells to track down and kill particular types of cells. Researchers removed T cells from ALL patients and genetically engineered the cells to hunt and destroy cells that make a protein called CD19. Such cells include antibody-producing B cells, which overgrow in patients with ALL and some other types of lymphoma or leukemia.

Gene edited CAR-T cells were recently used to treat a baby with leukemia.  Engineered memory T cells can persist in patients for at least 14 years, Chiara Bonini of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, reported. Such cells may “act as a living drug that can persist and respond in a patient in case the tumor comes back,” she said.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Gene Tests Up Among Young Breast Cancer Patients

Amy Norton

A growing number of young women with breast cancer are being tested for the BRCA gene mutations that substantially raise the risks of breast and ovarian tumors, a new study shows.

Researchers found that of nearly 900 women who developed breast cancer at age 40 or younger, most had undergone BRCA testing within a year of their diagnosis.

And the percentage went up over time: By 2013, 95 percent had been tested, according to findings published online Feb. 11 in JAMA Oncology.

Experts called the results good news, since BRCA testing has long been recommended for women diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50.

"This is great, it's heartening," said Dr. Jeffrey Weitzel, director of clinical cancer genetics at City of Hope, in Duarte, Calif.

But, he added, women in the study were largely white, well-educated and had health insurance -- and it's unlikely that disadvantaged U.S. women would show the same high rate of BRCA testing.

"We need to keep working on extending the reach of genetic testing," said Weitzel, who co-wrote an editorial published with the study.

Media coverage following actress Angelina Jolie's disclosure that she carried the BRCA1 mutation has improved awareness about the testing and cancer preventive surgeries, previous research has suggested.

Jolie had both of her breasts removed in 2013 after learning she has the BRCA mutation. And, in 2015, she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed due to the significantly increased risk of ovarian cancer that stems from having the BRCA1 mutation. But, the authors of the new study note that the rise in gene testing among patients in this study largely predated Jolie's disclosure.

Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes account for 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers, and about 15 percent of all ovarian cancers, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Since the mutations raise the risk of early cancer, women who develop either disease at a young age have a relatively higher chance of harboring the flawed genes.

So BRCA testing is recommended for women diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50. That's, in part, to help guide their treatment decisions, explained Dr. Ann Partridge, the senior researcher on the new study, and an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in Boston.

Women who carry the mutations have a high risk of developing a second cancer in the other breast, so some may want to opt for a double-mastectomy as a preventive measure. (Experts also advise women with BRCA mutations to have their ovaries removed by age 40, since there is no screening test for ovarian cancer, or any way to prevent it.)

BRCA testing also gives families information, Partridge explained. "On one hand, it could give them some peace of mind if the test is negative," she said. If it's positive, then certain family members may want to be tested, too, she added.

For the current study, Partridge and her colleagues surveyed 897 women who'd been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 or younger, at some point between 2006 and 2013. All were treated at one of 11 hospitals in Massachusetts, Colorado and Minnesota.

Of women diagnosed in 2006, 77 percent said they'd received BRCA testing. That went up to 95 percent among women diagnosed in 2013, the study reported.

Overall, about 12 percent of women who were tested had a BRCA mutation. And most of those women -- 86 percent -- decided to have a double-mastectomy, the study showed.

But half of the women who tested negative for a BRCA mutation also had a double-mastectomy, the researchers found.

That's concerning, both Partridge and Weitzel said. Women without the gene mutations have a low risk of developing a second cancer in the other breast, and there's no evidence that a double-mastectomy improves their long-term survival.

"We don't want to be doing procedures that aren't medically indicated," Partridge said.

It's not clear why so many women with negative test results opted for a double-mastectomy -- but it's also not surprising, Partridge noted, since it's consistent with past studies.

"Some women may do it for peace of mind," Partridge said, "or because they do believe it will improve their survival, even though there's no evidence."

At a time of high anxiety, she said, some women may not fully process the risk/benefit information they're hearing.

According to Weitzel, BRCA testing should ideally include genetic counseling, to help ensure that women understand their results.

But in reality, that counseling does not always happen, he said.

Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, BRCA testing is a covered preventive service for women at high risk of having a mutation. And, Weitzel said, Medicaid is now paying for testing, though the coverage varies by state.

There's still work to be done to improve "underserved" women's access to BRCA testing and counseling, Weitzel said -- including women in lower-income countries.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Exercise and Lymphedema

Don't let lymphedema slow you down! Stay active and always wear your compression garments while you exercise. Staying physically active has many benefits. It stimulates the flow of lymph fluid and reduces swelling. It also helps keep your joints flexible, strengthens your muscles and improves your posture. Swimming, walking, stretching and yoga are great exercise options.
Which exercise helps you keep your swelling down?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

OMbra is a fitness tracker disguised as a sports bra


Fitness trackers are everywhere, and now you'll even find them under your clothes.

Smart clothing company OM, known for making web-connected workout shirts, has been getting a lot of attention at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show for its unique take on wearables. In this case, we're talking about its smart sports bra, the OMBra, a concept that's more than four years in the making.

The core of the OMbra, a small black box that sits above the torso, houses a range of sensors that track running performance indicators, such as distance, cadence, pace, heart rate and calories. Positioned in a similar place to where a heart-rate strap may sit on the body, the bra collects data about your workout and sends it directly to a corresponding app.

"In our research, we learned women don't like chest straps — men don't typically like them either — but females particularly dislike it because it has to coexist with the bra," OM co-founder, St├ęphane Marceau, told Mashable. "We wanted to design a sports bra that could serve two purposes at the same time."

While this may seem like a gimmick, the concept and the app are quite intelligent: It tracks how much you're moving (activity), your breathing (respiration) and heart-rate. At the end of a workout, you get a score of 1 to 10, calculated by these three measurements.

The smart bra also monitors how soon your body recovers from a workout and matches that data up against others in your age range.

The design, which comes in various colors, is made of stretchy material that allows the bra to move as you do, while providing support at the same time. The start-up kit is $149 for a bra and the fitness tracker — additional bras are $59 (the fitness core can be detached from one and connected to another).

However, the company is already working to bring the concept to other types of bras, as well.

"The natural place to start was with sports bras to cater to people who wanted fitness tracking, but we want to include the technology into other everyday and intimate-looking bras," Marceau added. "It's already in the works.

"A few years from now, you'll go to the mall and buy a bra and it will be connected. When you go to buy a car, you don't ask the dealer for a gas gauge and a speedometer. You just expect it to be there."

Monday, February 1, 2016

Mastectomy Lingerie - Beautiful Lingerie

Even though you've had a mastectomy, you can still wear lingerie and feel sexy! We carry a special line of lingerie made specifically for our mastectomy clients. They come in all different sizes, colors and styles. And even in matching sets! Order yours in time for Valentine's Day!